Jeremy Hardy thinks… about the state

'Not the state we like, which is about schools and hospitals, but the other one'
September 2013

I will admit to having drawn a morsel of comfort from the defeat of the last government. I foolishly hoped grumpy libertarians in the Tory fold might consolidate their blossoming romance with Liberty and team up with the Lib Dems to restrain the ever-growing state. Not the state we like, which is about schools and hospitals, but the other one – the one that spies on us, beats us, curtails our right to protest and treats the criminal law as a plaything.

In fairness, Theresa May is no more authoritarian than Jack Straw or John Reid. Indeed, she didn’t have their Stalinist origins. Tankies change, but their methods don’t always. State capitalists become market capitalists, but retain their affection for secret policemen. For those enamoured with the Soviet Union, the problem was never that the British state was oppressive but that it was oppressing the wrong people. In an ideal world – one run by them – the state would have been spying on enemies of the Party; instead it spied on CND, anti-apartheid activists, radical vicars and even Labour governments.

Some old commies have moved so far to the right that they pretend those things never happened, or quip that it was just cold war public-school silliness, and that nothing like it happens now. Most of them embraced the New Labour project of restraining the state by putting it entirely at the service of capitalism, whether in subsidising low pay, marketising public services or battering anarchists. And here we are, with capital and government pooling their resources to crush anyone who pops up to resist war or climate change or poverty wages or gangster banking or the security apparatus itself. A right state we’re in, as I was bound to say.

Jeremy HardyJeremy Hardy is a comedian and writer who regularly appears on BBC Radio 4's The News Quiz and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue.

Gordon Wilson 15 September 2013, 19.18

I really agree, I just read it on the ‘Red Pepper’ – web site.And I can not help but notice youre cogent & considered wording, as mostly I’ve abandoned British political type criticism, as it lost any pizzaz long-long ago -in a faculty far away. Good criticism by american authors , that touch on UK affairs can be found with John Craig Robberts ( he’s a bit like ‘Dread Captain Roberts’ , except that he’s not a fiction ).
Good to hear from you on radio 4 too , could you ponder ‘selling out’ , and what it would mean for the normal London journalist , as I’m starting to get the impression that all main UK newspapers are under some coercion , possibly today !.

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